Tuesday, June 23, 2009

arles, france

What should have been a three hour drive took five hours, then six. it was partly my fault, wanting to stop in Montpellier, France, to see the city from which James Madison named his home and the place where Nostrodamus went to school to learn his magical arts. The stop was not worth the time.

Driving into Arles itself was a challenge. The city is small, about 50,000 people, but no changes have been made to the roads since the days of Van Gogh, and then not many since the time the Romans ruled this area. Then, imagine a stream of cars, taxis, and tour buses all conbverging on the city center from all directions. The lines getting into town were a mile long, and then imagine my frustration when I made a wrong turn and had to get back in line. No fun, but I took a couple detours that shortened the return trips.

Checked into the Hot Atrium, a Best Western that lives up to all my expectations of what a Best Western would be - outdated, musty, but convenient and passable. Moreover, the sitting room where I am doing my computing has all those garish Van Gogh colors of orange, lime green, brown, and chairs that look as if they have come out of one of Van Gogh's paintings. There is even a vase with red poppies.

The hotel has a parking garage and it is air conditioned. The clerk at the front desk spoke English and we laughed about the driving in France. After i told him how bad I thought the traffic was in Arles, he asked me if I was going to Marsailles. "If you go, don't stop at a red light, nobody does," he laughed.

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